Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Vanilla Chai Holiday Cheer Cupcakes

Holiday flavors are a favorite of all three Crusaders. In fact, every year we can’t wait for our first pumpkin spice latte of the season, then again for the gingerbread spice or peppermint mocha. So when Crusader Stacy mentioned participating in the CAKEfyiHoliday Treat Party” I jumped at the chance to make a sweet treat that would challenge my baking skills and have a holiday flavor. Immediately I thought of vanilla chai, not only because I equate it with cold weather and twinkling Christmas lights, but because it is one of my favorite flavors.


After quite a bit of research online I decided to create my own version of a vanilla chai cupcake, filled with white chocolate and vanilla bean fudge, topped with vanilla chai buttercream frosting. Choosing this recipe for both the cake and frosting, I adapted the chocolate fudge sauce recipe I used as the filling for the Chocolate Blackberry Syrah cupcakes I baked back in March.

First I had to make the “chai mix.” Easier said than done when all you have is cardamom “pods,” which you have to shell, and then the food processor won’t grind them. Thank goodness Crusader Stacy was helping me in the kitchen for this baking experiment, because she suggested a hammer. (Actually, her first suggestion was a mortar and pestle but I don’t have one of those, something I have to remedy in the near future!) After carefully hammering the cardamom into submission on my lovely granite counter top, I added the other spices and had my own chai mix. *On a side note, while you can get instant chai and use that instead, I didn’t find any that either weren’t missing some of the spices or had extra chemicals or ingredients that weren’t supposed to be in the mix, so even my chai mix is “from scratch.”

The kitchen already smelled amazing and I was only just getting started. The batter came together without any hiccups, then came making the filling. This was exciting at first because I got to use a Madagascar vanilla bean that had been sitting in my pantry begging to be used. I simmered it in the cream and then scraped all the tiny beans out of the pod and back into the hot cream. I then added the white chocolate chips, but after letting the mixture sit and whisking it together, it just didn’t thicken correctly. Crusader Stacy saved the day again because she immediately started researching what went wrong (not a high  enough chip to cream ratio) and found this solution from The Rescue Baker. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only one who had made this mistake. Once the filling cooled in the fridge (we made the frosting while we waited) we put it back into the mixing bowl and whipped it – creating more of a whipped cream filling than fudge, but it tasted fantastic.

ChaiCupcakeCloseUp(Check out the holiday toppers I found. So cute and they add a nice holiday touch.)

Once everything came together it turned out to be one tasty cupcake! Crusader Stacy said it was the best I’ve made yet, and the other friends I shared them with also enjoyed the holiday flavor. Moist and spicy cake, yummy icing, and a whipped vanilla bean white chocolate filling (that turned out better than expected.) What a great holiday dessert to share! We hope you enjoy all the holiday treats that are a part of the CAKEfyi “Holiday Treat Party” and if you are looking for a chai cupcake recipe, look no further! Happy Holidays and Vanilla Chai Cheers to a New Year!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)


Review for Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe Cupcakes: Raising the Bar for Store Bought Cupcakes

Well, I did it again. I bought cupcakes from Walmart. As I was browsing the aisles, I walked past and said, “I haven’t seen those before!” Typically my local store only has the mini cupcakes we reviewed for you before. The minis were decent enough, but these new ones are full-size (actually maybe even a little larger than the average cupcake) and look good. My husband had just commented the night before that he wished we had some cupcakes, so when I saw these I had to get some (I choose the Lemon Ice). It’s a great price, at $3.98 for four.

The new cupcakes are under a different label than the minis. I did some research on Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe and it seems like only Walmart carries them. There are four flavors, three of which we’ve tried (if I see the Red Velvet, I’ll have to pick that one up for Crusader Elisa). All of the cupcakes have light moist cake, smooth frosting, and a complementing filling and really are surprisingly tasty.

(Lemon Ice: Lemon cake filled with lemon crème and topped with lemon frosting and lemon crumbs. This cupcake is tangy and not too sweet.)

After tasting the Lemon Ice at home, I bought that plus the Triple Chocolate and Vanilla Bean for the Westminster Cupcake Picnic. I decided to take them out of the store packaging and perform a taste test before divulging where they came from.

(Triple Chocolate cupcakes: Chocolate cake filled with chocolate fudge and topped with chocolate frosting and Belgian chocolate pieces. Very rich and chocolaty!)

Everyone confirmed my thoughts and they were shocked by the price and where the cupcakes came from. There were even volunteers to take some home, so I didn’t have any leftover!

(Vanilla Bean: Vanilla cake with a sweet vanilla cream filling and topped with a Madagascar vanilla bean frosting. Great vanilla bean flavor!)

So if you are in your local Walmart, take a detour to the baked goods aisle and check out the Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe cupcakes. We are curious to see if others are also pleasingly surprised with these store-bought cupcakes.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

UPDATE: We edited the title of this entry after hearing about all the other locations, besides Walmart, that readers have been finding Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe cupcakes. We still have not found a website that lists the locations where these can be purchased, but see the comments below for some locations and please let us know if you found them somewhere not listed. Thank you!

***We are not affiliated with Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe. They are a product of the Give and Go Foods Corporation. For more information on the Give and Go Foods Corporation, please visit their website here.***

Cupcakes & Camel Races

The Crusaders were fortunate enough to have a friend (and Crusader Jenn’s sister-in-law), Daniela, stumble upon a cupcakery on her recent trip to Doha, Qatar! This is the furthest any of us have traveled (so far) for a cupcake, and we are so grateful that she felt compelled to indulge in cupcakes on her vacation and to give us her thoughts!

Daniela’s Review:

Cupcakes were the last thing I expected to find in the Middle East. Camel races? Sure. Beautiful coastline? Check. Dune bashing on the hot desert sand in an SUV? Mandatory, but you might want to wear a helmet. The great thing about traveling is being pleasantly surprised. Walking home after a fantastic night at the symphony, I thought, all I need is an espresso and a cupcake. Then, much like a desert mirage, a welcoming scent and visual appeared before us: Red Velvet Cupcakery.

Red Velvet Cupcakery is located in Doha, Qatar, at the Katara Cultural Village. This area is also where the annual film festival is held. The decor is whimsical; sleek furniture mimics cupcake foils with a liberal sprinkling of colorful red-toned hues throughout. While the shop is decidedly modern, there is definitely enough cheekiness to make you grin immediately upon entering.

The coffee was hot, strong, fantastic. While sipping we decided to try three flavors including the daily special. It’s also worth noting that Red Velvet Cupcakery offers a selection of vegan/gluten free cupcakes. Being traditionalists we did not sample but they are known for being a tasty option.

Our unanimous favorite was the Devil’s Food. The dark chocolate buttermilk cake was rich and the bittersweet chocolate ganache incredible. They even topped it off with a bit of 24k gold leaf. If you wanted a “death by chocolate” type of dessert, this is definitely the way to go!

Second in line was the Peanut Butter Cup. This cupcake had a nice blend of salty/sweet  with a chocolate chip buttermilk cake base. Being a peanut butter lover I would have rated it almost equal to the Devil’s Food except the chocolate in the cake definitely tasted like milk chocolate and I prefer dark.

The Vanilla Bean Blueberry cupcake was the daily special and also our least favorite. It was extremely airy with an essence of vanilla bean, blueberry, and lemon. There just wasn’t enough flavor for me. I think I would have liked it better had they incorporated some lemon zest or added more blueberry to the filling. If you enjoy a lighter and fluffier cupcake this would fit your preference.

Overall, a stop at Red Velvet Cupcakery was a sweet ending to our day. The coolest part? You don’t need a passport to visit. Their sister shop is located in Washington DC.*

– Review by Guest Crusader, Daniela (New York)

*Unknown to our guest crusader during her recent trip, the Crusaders where able to try Red Velvet’s cupcakes back in 2010 during our DC Cupcake Tour.

In case you ever find yourself in Qatar, Red Velvet’s shop is located at:
West Bay, Doha
Katara – Valley of Cultures
Building 24
Daily: 9:00am – 12:00am Midnight